Friday, June 17, 2011

Nobody's city but our own

Once upon a time a twenty five year old post doctoral scientist arrived in San Francisco, a city she had never before seen, with all her worldly belongings in two suitcases. She had a university research position lined up, just enough cash to cover her expenses for a couple of weeks and a bed in a roach infested youth hostel. Her first few days in the city were spent apartment hunting. She got fantastically lucky. You see she didn't just find a place to live, she found a home. She found the kind of friends that are like family. Friends who became connected to each other the way the rickety back stairs connected their apartments. Friends who got to know each other the way you can only when you are young, unencumbered and have hours to lose drinking and laughing and telling stories. 

There is a new musical playing in San Francisco, a show based upon the "Tales of the City" novels by Armistead Maupin. The opening scene, set in 1976, introduces us to twenty five year old MaryAnn,  from Cleveland Ohio who is seeking an apartment. She finds a home, and a group of friends at 28 Barbary lane on Russian Hill and the show tells the entwined stories of these fascinating people through some quite brilliant songs, including "Nobody's city but my own".

 My only experience of the city before moving here was through this series of novels. They have a special place in my heart, maybe they even drew me here. The friends I found, the life we led back in the late 1990's in our cool but tatty victorian apartment building paralleled that of those fictional characters. Not just in the partying and dating, but in the warm and genuine nature of the bond we shared. I love my city. Despite being far too far away from my family in England, it is truly my home.

I bought tickets to the musical as soon as they went on sale. I blogged about my anticipation. Last weekend we went to see the show. Followthatdog and her family came down from Seattle, as did our friend Chihuahua. Work and family took them both up to the pacific northwest a few years ago, but their hearts are still in San Francisco. Stan still lives here. We went out for a fancy dinner, and then we went on to the show. Gussied up and liquored up, it felt just like old times. We felt like old timers when we realized that the last time we had been to this restaurant together was when it opened back in 1998. Over fine wines and gourmet seafood we rehashed our own beloved stories. Legends of memorable nights whose details I will not embellish here on this public blog.

The show was perfect. The company even better. My professional and parent circles are great, but I put up a little barrier with people I have met later in life. There is a lot that my newer friends don't know about me. I temper my language, and think before I throw out a caustic barb (well sometimes!)  There is something so wonderfully rejuvenating about being with people who know each other through and through. People who will always love you, no matter what you do or say.

Followthatdog and I put our grown up parent personas back on the next day and extended our homage to San Francisco by taking the children to visit Alcatraz. It was a picture postcard day, all the more perfect since we have had unseasonally appalling weather this spring.

Chugging across the bay, the familiar yet always breathtaking views of city and bridges surrounding the ferryboat, Geekygirl announced with certainty "Mummy, We live in the most beautiful city in the world." I realized what a gift I have given them. The city of San Francisco, to make their very own.
Little Dog, Geekygirl, Big Dog, Geekyboy.
Made in San Francisco.